NSI alumna Jordan Canning: NSI training was a pivotal experience on my career path

Jordan Canning

At the National Screen Institute, we’re blessed to see firsthand the difference training makes in the lives of storytellers. Throughout December we’re sharing impact stories from many of our talented alumni who’ve told us how NSI training transformed their lives and careers.

Today’s featured alumna is Jordan Canning who made Countdown through NSI Drama Prize with producer Laura Churchill.

Jordan has directed more than a dozen short films which have played at festivals all over the world. Among them, Countdown won a number of awards including a Golden Sheaf for best director; Not Over Easy swept all three awards in the NSI Online Short Film Festival; Seconds won the 2012 TIFF RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition and the Shaw Media Fearless Female Director Award; and The Tunnel premiered at Cannes as part of Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent program.

Jordan directed all 23 episodes of the CTV digital series Space Riders: Division Earth which won the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for best digital series and four Canadian Comedy Awards including best director.

Her first feature, We Were Wolves, premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Her second feature, Suck it Up, premiered at Slamdance 2017 and won best feature film at the B3 Frankfurt Biennale. Her third feature, an omnibus film called Ordinary Days, won best director at the 2018 Canadian Film Festival.

She has directed on numerous television series, including hour-long dramas: Saving Hope (CTV), The Detail (CTV), Burden of Truth (The CW), Nurses (Global) – and half-hour comedies: This Hour Has 22 Minutes (CBC), Baroness Von Sketch Show (IFC), Little Dog (CBC) and the Emmy-nominated Schitt’s Creek (CBC/PopTV).

In 2019, she and her co-director took home the Canadian Screen Award for best direction in a sketch/variety show for their work on Baroness Von Sketch Show season 3.

Jordan is a 2010 graduate of the Director’s Lab at the Canadian Film Centre and an alumnus of TIFF Talent Lab, TIFF Pitch This! and Women in the Director’s Chair.

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How did your training through NSI help you get to the place you’re at in your career today?

Creating Countdown through NSI Drama Prize was a pivotal experience on my career path. It was the first time I was given the opportunity to collaborate with a producer, and the two of us learned so much doing the program together. It was so incredible to have the support of NSI behind us as we went through the entire process from start to finish.

What was most memorable or helpful about NSI training?

The mentors and professionals I was connected with during the program were so instrumental to my growth as an emerging filmmaker. I was so buttressed by their knowledge and guidance, and by the time we went to camera I felt totally prepared. I knew what I wanted and how to achieve it, and I was ready for all the curve balls production can throw at you.

Did you make enduring connections with peers and industry folks?

I still keep in touch with a number of the other program participants. It’s so wonderful to see where our paths have taken us all and to watch their creative achievements flourish!

What advice or encouragement would you give a prospective applicant considering NSI programs?

NSI is an invaluable resource for filmmakers in this country. Take advantage of their amazing programs – it will prepare you so much for a career in the film industry!

What has your career trajectory looked like between when you completed training and now?

After completing my NSI Drama Prize short film, I went on to make a number of other short films and web series, and eventually my first feature in 2013. Since then I’ve worked on two other feature films and have also transitioned into directing television.

What was the most transformative part of your learning experience?

Being able to take off all of the many hats we have to wear, and just concentrate on exactly what it is we want to do – even if it’s just for a week – is such a valuable experience to us as artists. NSI Drama Prize gave me the chance to focus on being a director, and in that freedom my confidence and abilities were allowed to grow so much.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

I’m working on my new feature film, developing a TV show, continuing to direct TV series and about to finish an animated short film with the NFB.

Where can people find out more about your work online?

Get Set Films.

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